Terminator 3: War of the Machines Preview

We try out an early version of this PC multiplayer shooter based on the motion picture.


When he's not presiding over the state of California, politician Arnold Schwarzenegger has such diverse interests as appearing in movies and lending his likeness to movie-licensed properties. The next game to bear the governor's likeness will be Terminator 3: War of the Machines, an online multiplayer shooter in development at Hungarian studio Clevers. The game lets you fight battles in the war-torn, futuristic version of Earth, as depicted in the motion pictures. You'll be able to play either as a soldier with Tech-Com, the rebel human faction, or as a ruthless robot killer on the side of Skynet, the dominating mechanical faction that is struggling to take control of various city maps. In the single-player game, you'll actually play as Mr. Schwarzenegger's Terminator character--who first appears as a Skynet minion and later as a reprogrammed Tech-Com operative. We had an opportunity to try out an early multiplayer version of the game and have much to report.

The single-player game lets you play as the last action governor himself.
The single-player game lets you play as the last action governor himself.

As in Digital Illusions' extremely popular shooter Battlefield 1942, War of the Machines lets you fight battles on foot and in free vehicles that spawn regularly on the maps. And, similar to that game, your primary objective is to capture various control points on the map by defeating any nearby enemies and standing in the vicinity until the color changes to your own side: green for the humans, red for the machines. Though the maps we've seen are quite large, they don't seem to be quite as sprawling as those of Digital Illusions' WWII-themed game. That actually seems like a good thing, since it seems easier to cover the map and its various control points more quickly on foot.

At this point in the game's development, the humans of Tech-Com all begin the game on foot as one of four classes: the hunter, the heavy hunter, the scout, or the supply. With these and other classes in the game, you can choose to play as one, then choose to equip your character with a specific primary weapon and a secondary item (such as a bundle of plastic explosives or a batch of EMP grenades), where applicable. The hunter is the default assault class that carries an assault rifle or a machine gun and can carry either standard or EMP grenades. The heavy hunter carries grenades, along with either a personal rocket launcher, a flak cannon, or a plasma gun. The scout is the humans' sniper and can currently carry one of two kinds of sniper rifles and either EMP or standard grenades. The supply class currently serves as both a medic and a demolitions expert who carries either grenades or plastic explosives, along with either a machine gun or a plasma rifle.

The machines of Skynet, on the other hand, may start out either as on-foot humanoid robots, or they may spawn in as actual vehicles. While spawning in as a vehicle limits your mobility (you can't enter buildings, for instance), it also guarantees that you'll move faster than normal, and, unlike those pesky humans, you won't have to wait for the next vehicle to spawn if your teammate stole the last one from under your nose. Skynet players can spawn in as two different models of humanoid T-900 series Terminators. There's the supply (currently equipped with only a plasma gun), which can carry a plasma cannon or a heavy-duty term cannon. There's also the infiltrator model, which looks like a human and will eventually be disguised completely as a human (currently, an infiltrator player's name still appears in red). Infiltrator models may use the human machine gun, the flak cannon, or the plasma cannon. Finally, machines can spawn in directly as vehicles, like the heavy-duty HK tank or the swift FK flier. At this point, the controls for these seem to be rather loose, but they also both seem to be powerful and effective alternatives on the battlefield.

War of the Machines' multiplayer battles resemble those of Battlefield 1942.
War of the Machines' multiplayer battles resemble those of Battlefield 1942.

War of the Machines is still very much a work in progress, though, at this point, the game seems much more like an arcade-style shooter than a highly realistic simulation. The game's control and physics are currently very forgiving, and vehicles don't seem to be influenced much by momentum (the FK terminator form can turn and stop on a dime in midair, for instance). However, on-foot tactics do seem to influence the game. In the maps we played, we saw plenty of infantry action, even though vehicles, like the four-wheeler with the mounted cannon, seemed like perfectly good alternatives. Several on-foot weapons, especially the rocket launcher and the flak cannon that the heavy hunter carries, seem effective against Skynet vehicles. Clevers is still adjusting the strengths of various weapons and classes, so, hopefully, the developer will get the balance right.

Terminator 3: War of the Machines attempts to re-create the same sort of action-packed battles you may have seen in Battlefield 1942, but, at this point in time, it also seems to support on-foot action, so those head-to-head deathmatch skills you haven't used in a while may also come in handy. We'll see how the game turns out when it's released later this year.

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